NCP on course to deliver 100 corporate leaders by 2018

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Dec. 24: Rated as one-of-its-kind initiative in the world, the National CEO Programme (NCP) is moving on the right track to boost the private sector talent pool by delivering around 100 well-groomed CEOs or top executives for the future. Speaking exclusively to the Observer, Richard Kemp, Director, NCP, said, the selection process has been quite rigorous and there have been no compromise of any kind vis-à-vis the minimum eligibility criteria. Kemp said the initial goal of the programme is to deliver 100 future corporate leaders over three cohorts till 2018. “We have completed the first cohort of 30 participants in 2016 and the second batch of 35 students will be ready in May 2017. The final cohort will have 35 students, following which we will review our programme and decide on the next strategy.”
Kemp said, “The nine-month courses start in September and end in May. The idea is that during this period they will have six modules to develop their leadership. Our aim is to have people representing different sectors, be it the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or large companies.
“What we expect from the leaders of these small companies is that they will develop the scale of those enterprises, open new divisions and we already have some examples from the last cohort.”
According to Kemp, for participants, English is one of their languages for business and it is important people to use English for technical purposes if not business. “The real emphasis is on communication skills because they need to communicate in the global economy.”
Interview Excerpts:
What makes the different from other leadership programmes that people can apply to?
The NCP is a unique collaboration, inspired by the Diwan of Royal Court in collaboration with its Institute of Capability Development, with the latter being at the centre of the programme’s cutting-edge delivery.
The approach that the NCP has implemented to achieve its mission places it in a category of its own from the very beginning.
Unlike many leadership programmes offering executive education, NCP is not merely investing in local business talent, but delivering a high-calibre capacity-based initiative built to inspire transformational change across industries nationwide.
As we enhance the proficiency of strategically positioned business leaders, we are going beyond ‘investing in self’ and working to harness participants’ ability to boost sectoral development.
The NCP combines the vision, insight, skills and knowledge of senior national executives with that of globally leading academics in its mission to build a community of world-class Omani CEOs.
Unlike many similar initiatives worldwide, we also use an external and internationally leading human resource consultancy to lead a rigorous selection process and ensure people participate based on merit alone.
Why does NCP focus on the private sector’s senior executives?
Senior executives are in a position to react quickly to changes in the local, regional and global economies, which is imperative in terms of responding to and creating new opportunities.
Private sector business leaders are accountable for leading organisations that can respond productively to challenging market conditions as well as other circumstances.
Sharing leadership best practices across key economic sectors allows NCP participants to think about innovation and thus identify opportunities at a more macro level with greater foresight.
This will produce tangible economic growth by enhancing capabilities at the senior organisational level.
What is the value of including strategic projects in the educational aspect of NCP?
Adding strategic projects provides NCP participants with a learning context they can use to test and apply their new thinking and skills in real time with live developments coming from market change. This helps them to understand their capabilities under pressure as they deliver complex analysis and proposals that can benefit strategic economic sectors.
Project groups are fashioned to ensure strong combination of individual and team work in projects that are also sponsored by external parties; for example the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) oversees the NCP’s Mining Sector Project whilst the Authority of Electricity Regulation (AER) sponsors our energy conservation venture.
Upon completing the final module, participants submit their projects as proposals for consideration and application, pending further review.
We have already seen the acceptance of proposals from Cohort 1, which promise to bring new and highly opportune developments to Oman in the near future across multiple sectors.
How do you measure the effectiveness of the learning modules and the progress of participants?
We have implemented monitoring, evaluation and learning measurement frameworks that allow us to observe the progress of individuals, groups and projects at various stages throughout the 12-month programme.
These come in various forms and are supplemented by a system of continuous improvement with feedback, reports and suggestions to enhance each element of the NCP’s delivery.
These are produced by NCP participants, academics from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland, our ‘Knowledge Partner’, senior stakeholders in Oman’s business community, and sponsors of NCP projects.
Above all, our esteemed Advisory Committee plays an important role in keeping every aspect of the programme focused on working towards having a significant economic impact.
The committee is chaired by the Advisor for Studies and Research to the Diwan of Royal Court and joined by seven other Omani business leaders from multiple major economic sectors as well as the Director General of the ICD.
How does NCP serve Oman’s diversification agenda?
NCP draws participants from every sector of local business and industrial operation which, as we can see through both cohorts, comprises a balance of participants from micro/small enterprises, mid-level businesses and large-scale corporations.
This ensures we harness a full spectrum of experience and best practice as we contribute to the development of the Omani workforce and that of the national agenda.
The NCP is centred on the idea of furthering His Majesty’s vision of a knowledge-based economy.
Changing the way business leaders identify and negotiate opportunities, as well as equipping them with the latest knowledge and trends in business leadership allows them unlock the potential of Oman by steering it closer to economic diversity in various contexts.
Participants lead with new perspective and critical thinking skills that directly impact the strategic performance of each company and sector.
As the learning filters down through local teams and industries this process is coming to represent the nation’s journey of transformational change in the workplace as employees grow together.
What success stories can be attributed to the programme so far?
Although it has been only a few months since the graduation of Cohort 1, there have been clear indicators that the programme is having a very real impact.
Alumni from the first edition of the programme have set up a number of new businesses in various sectors, which are already thriving, in some cases receiving ‘Excellent Grade’ evaluations from various large independent contracting companies.
Other participants are focused on propelling change within their existing organisations as the starting point for development in the national workforce.
It’s not a matter of one employee or team at a time acquiring new skills in a single organisation because a member of senior staff participated in the NCP — far from it.
We anticipate companies having a more open approach and consciously exposing the quality of their training to that of competitors’, that is to say evaluating more critically to inspire holistic growth that will generate greater market dynamics through rising performance. By advancing Oman’s ability to drive higher levels of local and international performance, participants are able to open new doors with overseas collaboration and contracting for proficient local businesses.